China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: Seeing is power. What can be seen, what is hidden from view, how something is being seen - in the modern world these questions are increasingly determined by visual technologies. By redistributing visibility, opening up the optical unconscious, aligning human vision with machines (cameras, drones, etc.), modern visual technologies in turn enable power relations, ideology, and political economy - sometimes in areas where the visual aspects initially seem secondary. This panel investigates the broader implications of visual technologies in modern and contemporary China. From older technologies like photography and slide projection to cutting-edge modeling software and satellite imaging, the panelists not only illuminate lesser known media forms but demonstrate a need to foreground visuality in many disciplines across the China field, such as cultural history, international relations, and urban planning.
Beginning in the early twentieth century, Panpan Yang examines stop-motion tricks in silent Chinese cinema as a surprising site to observe the interfacing between traditional culture and modern technology. Chenshu Zhou unearths a forgotten history in which slide projection played a unique role in political propaganda in the Mao era. Yomi Braester focuses on how contemporary architectural modeling shapes screen aesthetics and participates in China’s neoliberal economy. Weixian Pan reconfigures the contentious issue of the South China Sea as a matter of mediated visuality. Collectively we recast major issues in modern China through the lens of technologized vision.
Paper Presenter: Panpan Yang – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Chenshu Zhou – University of Pennsylvania
Paper Presenter: Yomi Braester – University of Washington
Paper Presenter: Weixian Pan – New York University Shanghai